The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

The Humbling Scenes: Part I

If you have a good sense of direction, please never forget that this is a gift. Like those who can sleep in airplanes, you have been granted something very beautiful. Be grateful for it.

In an attempt to familiarize myself with my new city, I walked for four hours and found none of the places I had planned to visit. I couldn’t find a church I’d hoped to attend, I couldn’t find two other sights I thought I had seen before. I gave up the search after three hours. Yet, it still took me another hour to get home.

Practicing my Turkish (a.k.a. throwing myself at the mercy of strangers), I did ask for directions. I learned that if you ask 10 people, 2 will admit they don’t know, 4 will give vague or counter-productive directions because they don’t want to admit they don’t know, and 4 will give helpful instructions that I would be unable to follow or would swiftly forget. Everyone answered with a smile, at least.

Finally 80 blocks from home, an older man said he knew the area, he knew a shortcut, and he’d gladly walk me there. He also needed to ask; he also discovered that we received a lot of seemingly credibly tips that led nowhere. At a café a man assured us that my place was right around the corner. Doubling back after the dead end, my guide said: “But that’s not the right one, brother!” And the man at the café shrugged behind his cigarette.

By the time we found my street, I think the man was tired of my assurances, “Thank you so much!,” “You’re so kind,” “I’ll pray for you and your family.” A gesture that seemed so slight turned into 30 minutes with a cheerful blonde on his heels. He smiled when we parted, but as he turned to go, he let out a huge sigh. I couldn’t have agreed more.

–Izmir, Turkey

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9 comments on “The Humbling Scenes: Part I

  1. cindy knoke
    October 26, 2015

    “If you have a good sense of direction, please never forget that this is a gift. Like those who can sleep in airplanes, you have been granted something very beautiful. Be grateful for it.”
    Wonderful post. I cannot sleep in airplanes and I have no sense of direction.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 27, 2015

      🙂 Oh, glory, I have to plan at least 15 hours of work for any long-haul flight so I don’t get restless. I was able to doze for about 10 minutes once and I still remember it with a tear in my eye. 🙂

      I’m glad I’m not alone in this one!
      Paige

  2. Darlene
    October 27, 2015

    I got a bit lost in Messina and asked someone how to get to the Cathedral. She pointed behind me and said, “It´s right there.” Duh, I felt so stupid. I am blessed though, as I can sleep on airplanes!

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 28, 2015

      Darlene, the photo with this picture was in a park close to a church I was trying to find. I finally gave up trying to follow the map and sat in the park to write a bit. Later when I stood, I noticed the shadow of the steeple on the ground. I was sitting RIGHT by the church the whole time. 🙂
      Paige

  3. Darlene
    October 28, 2015

    I´m so glad I´m not the only one!! 😀

  4. thenicethingaboutstrangers
    October 10, 2016

    Reblogged this on The Nice Thing About Strangers and commented:

    ❤ Welcome to my new readers! So excited to have readers mingling–new readers and my long-time pals. 🙂 I wanted to share a few stories from my book. You might like all of these nice things on paper with a lovely cover design from a Turkish designer I met in a bus. Hehe. Nice!
    Paige
    –Paige

  5. Alison and Don
    October 11, 2016

    My sense of direction is only okay, and I can almost never sleep on planes 😦
    I’m glad you finally got home. I loved Turkey, but we didn’t ever get that lost.
    I love reading your beautifully written slices of life.
    Alison

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 12, 2016

      Alison, Perhaps this is why it is better to travel with a “Don” to help with the directions. 🙂 I am not quite sure how I managed to get so lost. A friend and I tracked my route on a map the other day and he was laughing so hard he almost wept. “How did you get from way over here to waaaaaay over here?” My answer, “I just started doing down and then I just started going up.” 😀
      Paige

      • Alison and Don
        October 12, 2016

        Oh that’s too funny. A “Don” definitely comes in handy!

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This entry was posted on October 26, 2015 by in kindness, Travel, Turkey, Writing and tagged , , , , .

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